The Minister of Health Hon. Saia Piukala has been elected to become a member of the World Health Organisation executive board for the next three years.
Piukala was appointed during the 72nd Session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Assembly (WHA) which took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 20 – 28 May 2019
“This opportunity provides a chance for Tonga to ensure our health issues, and those we share with other Pacific island countries, are heard and addressed,” said Hon. Piukala.
“The health challenges we face are real and action is needed. Working with the WHO in this way will ensure healthier lives for those in the Pacific.”
The appointment will build on regional health leadership by Tonga, including the role of the Minister as a commissioner on the WHO’s Independent Global High level Commission on Non-communicable Diseases, and his advocacy efforts for safe and affordable surgery.
After his appointment Tonga will join other members from WHO’s Western Pacific region: Australia, China, Japan and Singapore.
The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO, attended by senior health leaders from all WHO Member States and focused on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The Executive Board is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, each one designated by a WHO Member State. Each board member’s term is 3 years.
The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies and priorities of WHO, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed budget.
With the Tongan Minister of Health, Dr Saia Ma’u Piukala, joining the 34-strong board, the Pacific will retain a strong voice in WHO’s work, and ensure on-going advocacy on critical Pacific health issues like non-communicable diseases and the health impacts of climate change.
Following the World Health Assembly, Hon Minister Dr Saia Piukala will remain in Geneva for the 145th session of the Executive Board from 29th to 30th of May 2019.